Since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, more than 4 million Syrians have fled the country, creating the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. Most have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, but many have risked death to reach Europe and the possibility of a better life. Unlike Europe and Syria's neighbors, the United States has had the advantage of picking and choosing from afar, taking in just over 2,000 Syrian refugees since the war's start. The Obama administration has pledged to take another 10,000 in 2016, but there are some who suggest that we are falling well below the number that we can and should accept. What are our moral obligations, and what are the cultural, economic, and security issues that must be taken into account? Should the U.S. let in 100,000 Syrian refugees?
Robert S. Ford is currently a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, where he writes about developments in the Levant and North Africa. From 2011 to 2014, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Syria, after which he retired from the U.S. Foreign Service. In this role, he was the State Department lead on Syria, proposing and implementing policy and developing common strategies with European and Middle Eastern allies to try to resolve the Syria conflict. Prior to this, he was Deputy U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (2008-2010); U.S. Ambassador to Algeria (2006-2008); Deputy Chief of Mission in Bahrain (2001-2004); and Political Counselor to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad (2004-2006), during the tumultuous establishment of the new, permanent Iraqi government. Ford received the Secretary’s Service Award, the U.S. State Department’s highest honor, in 2014, and the John F. Kennedy Library’s Profile in Courage Award, for his stout defense of human rights in Syria, in 2012.
David Frum is a senior editor at The Atlantic.
David Miliband is President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where he oversees the agency’s humanitarian relief operations in more than 30 war-affected countries and its refugee resettlement and assistance programs in 25 United States cities.
Jessica M. Vaughan serves as Director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a DC-based research institute that examines the impact of immigration on American society and educates policymakers and opinion leaders on immigration issues. She has been with CIS since 1992, and her area of expertise is immigration policy and operations, covering topics such as visa programs, immigration benefits, and immigration law enforcement. Vaughan recently completed several major projects on immigration and crime, including a Department of Justice-funded project studying the use of immigration law enforcement in transnational gang suppression efforts. Previously, Vaughan was a foreign-service officer with the State Department, where she served in Belgium and Trinidad & Tobago. Her articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Economist, and other publications. She has testified before Congress several times and advises state lawmakers and agencies on immigration issues.